Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he sees Turkey as part of Europe, but stressed that Ankara will not give in to “attacks” and “double standards,” amid months of tensions with Brussels.
“We see ourselves as an inseparable part of Europe … However this does not mean that we will bow down to overt attacks to our country and nation, veiled injustices and double standards,” Erdoğan said Sunday in a speech to members of his AK Party, according to Reuters.
He added in more conciliatory remarks that “we do not believe that we have any problems with countries or institutions that cannot be solved through politics, dialogue and negotiations.”
Turkey is still formally a candidate to become an EU member, although EU and foreign affairs ministers decided to effectively freeze accession talks in June 2018.
More recently, tensions between the EU and Ankara have been rising over Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in search for natural gas in disputed waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus. The EU earlier this month extended its sanctions by one year over what it described as “Turkey’s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean” and EU leaders will discuss whether to impose further sanctions at a meeting next month.
Further fueling the conflict, Erdoğan called last Sunday for a “two-state” solution in Cyprus during a high-profile visit to the Turkish-Cypriot north of the island, which has been divided since Turkey’s 1974 invasion.
The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell responded last Thursday, saying: “It is important that Turkey understands that its behavior is widening its separation from the European Union.”